Chinese and Japanese Fighters Clash Over East China Sea

July 5, 2016 10:47 AM - Updated: July 6, 2016 9:17 AM
Two Japanese Air Self Defense Forces F-15s in 2009. US Air Force Photo
Two Japanese Air Self Defense Forces F-15s in 2009. US Air Force Photo

Beijing claims a pair of Japanese fighters locked weapons radar on their planes over the East China Sea, while Tokyo denies the accusation.

During the June 17 incident, Chinese defense officials said two Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) Mitsubishi F-15J Eagles intercepted two Chinese Sukhoi Su-30 fighters over the East China Sea in the Beijing declared Air Defense Identification Zone near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands.

“The Japanese fighter jets approached and warned the Chinese military aircraft, while the Chinese military aircraft did not leave. During the flight, the Japanese fighter jets came face to face with the Chinese military aircraft for many times. To avoid risks, the Japanese fighter jets released infrared jamming shells and then flew out of that airspace,” according to a Monday report by China Military Online quoting Ministry of National Defense officials.
“They even used fire-control radars to lock on the Chinese fighter jet.

The statement went on to say, “the provocative actions by the Japanese jets could easily trigger an air accident and harm the safety of both crews, and jeopardize regional peace and stability.”

Locking onto another fighter with fire control radar is one of the most provocative actions an adversary can take short of firing weapons. Japan denied the claims.

On Tuesday, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda denied Chinese claims to
reporters that the Japanese fighters acted aggressively.

Two Chinese Su-30 Fighters. PLA Photo
Two Chinese Su-30 Fighters. PLA Photo

The fighters have, “never taken any of the provocative actions as claimed,” he told reporters according to The Japan Times.

Japanese officials said they’ve seen an uptick in Chinese activity in the region saying last week that the JASDF have scrambled fighters 200 times this quarter over 114 times over the same time period last year.

“It appears that Chinese activity is escalating at sea and in the air,” Japanese Self-Defence Force chief Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano said last week reported the South China Morning Post.

Revelation of the June 17 incident near the Senkakus comes a month after a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Type 054 Jiankai I frigate sailed through contested waters of the disputed islands causing protests in Tokyo.

China Coast Guard ships have sailed past the islands but the frigate’s incursion was the first military ship to transit inside waters contiguous to the islands’ territorial sea.

In 2013, China declared the ADIZ over the East China Seas and requires all aircraft operating in the zone – considered international airspace – to report to Chinese air traffic control officials.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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